It's painful to admit -- and I rarely do -- but as a sun sign Leo, the zodiac's hands-down vainest, I'm obsessed with my looks, particularly when it comes to aging.
I know I spend more on stupid creams and scrubs than my sensible Capricorn friends.
While my mother's words of wisdom -- "Kimberly, just remember, intelligence doesn't sag" -- occasionally drift to the surface to comfort me, at the end of the day I want a pretty face in the mirror.
Facial injections So when I get the chance to witness an anti-aging breakthrough, from Sweden no less, I'm there in a flash even though I'm notoriously squeamish and there's talk of icky live facial injections. Like I said, vanity, thy name is Leo.
Tuesday morning, 32nd floor of the Four Seasons Hotel. Tables are laid out with coffee and pastries. Smartly dressed company reps are charging around. It looks a lot like any media gathering -- except that in the adjacent room there's what appears to be a dentist's chair, and beside it one of those little metal carts you see in hospitals.
We're here to learn about Q-Med Aesthetics' line of wrinkle-busting skin boosts. As a ridiculously attractive Swedish spokesperson introduces the product, it actually sounds pretty good: injections of synthetic hyaluronic acid into the skin puffs it up, minimizing the appearance of folds and lines.
The stuff is biodegradable, so while you have do some maintenance by getting new injections about every six months, at least you're never stuck with a look that's so 1985.
And since Q-Med's goop is non-animal-based, it's both ethical and unlikely, they intone, to spread diseases between species or to trigger nasty allergic reactions. This is good since mad cow face isn't exactly burning up the runways in Milan.
The cost? Between $400 and $700 a session, performed with topical anaesthetic in your doctor or dermo's office. Considering that high-end French cosmetic company Sisley charges over $400 for their top-of-the-line face cream (don't ask how I know), that's competitive.
Everything is peachy until Oakville-based doctor Sheetal Sapra informs us that it's time for the volunteers to be injected. "Gather round," he says, waving us toward the reclining chair. "Have a closer look."
The first of three promised vic... er, volunteers is led into the room. Though she denies it, she looks mighty nervous when Sapra tears open the hermetically sealed package containing the first of several syringes.
Suddenly, I want to hurl. The thought of watching up close as someone takes a needle in the face -- actually, an entire series of needles -- has me desperately thinking back to my mother's advice, but this time, in my panicked state, different words of hers are coming through. "Kimberly, never be cheap with your face." Surely, she didn't mean this.
And how, exactly, does one explain those track marks to friends and loved ones? Junkies, rejoice. Next time someone questions your pinpricks, tell them your elbows were looking kind of fatigued and needed a Swedish lift.
Sensed conspiracy I check to see how I can bust out of here, but the company reps, smelling my fear, are lined up shoulder-to-shoulder at the exit. Now I think it was a coincidence, but at the time I sensed conspiracy.
Sapra is giving a play-by-play of what he's doing. I steal a glance. Volunteer girl's face is beet red -- too red for me to tell if the treatment took or not -- her hands are clenched together and the reporters are pressing in like buzzards.
Mr. Doctor-from-Sweden pipes up that in Europe a new craze finds women inviting their girlfriends and their dermatologist over to the house for injection parties. Euro-version Tupperware, I guess. At least you could bang a few vodkas first.
Q-Med's system will never work for me -- unless I can take the treatments under general anesthetic. Yet knowing me, I fear that one day I, too, will be looking into some form of cosmetic enhancement.
I should have been born a Taurus.